Reflecting on Thanksgiving Traditions

Okay, I have a confession to make … I have Thanksgiving fatigue. And Thanksgiving is next week. Which is coming up fast.

I don’t have gratitude fatigue, nope, I am extraordinarily grateful for my full, crazy, imperfect, fun life. And wouldn’t trade it with anyone I know. I’m just tired of cooking for, cleaning for, and organizing Thanksgiving Day. There, I’ve said it, I’ve come clean, no pun intended.

After our Turkey Day last year, with its dinner for thirty, I plopped down on our library sofa, put my feet up and began thinking. The ranch house was clean, guests had departed, leftovers were divvied out and I started to tally up the Thanksgivings we have hosted over the years, 35 years of marriage and counting, and it was a lot. A big lot. Just thinking about “next year” made me very, very tired.

Then I came up with an idea, a brilliant stroke of genius. My son owns a restaurant. And it has Thanksgiving Day seatings. And I know how to pick up the phone and dial his number.

I made reservations, fast.

Then I told my husband....

It wasn’t well received. He loves Thanksgiving the old fashioned way.

I stood my ground though, through the thick and thin of another year. Anytime the subject was brought up I obfuscated, cajoled, put my foot down, whined, I pulled out all the stops. And just as I was getting to the finish line, I tripped.

It was my guest list that did it.

It just kept getting bigger, until it outgrew my son’s small, intimate restaurant. It outgrew my fantasy that all I had to do was find a cute outfit to wear, put it on and show up at someone else’s table. I had to come up with Plan B. After thinking about it creatively for a day or two this week, I came up with one. Here were the questions I asked myself … what do I love to do most in getting ready for the big day? My answer was decorating and setting the tables. Okay, I can do that. It means we will be moving our lunch to my cooking school and small event center, Grove House, which is loaded with all we need to put on a party. And it is clean and ready to go. Decision made, not much pain. Next, what was the one thing I really, really did not want to cook? Answer? It was three things. Turkey, dressing and gravy. Which means I went to our caterer’s website, and ordered with one click the Thanksgiving triad I don’t want to make. All we have to do is pick them up the day before and pop them in the oven the day of. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place with the generosity of my family and friends who have all offered to bring their specialty side dishes.

I guess the moral of the story is sometimes it’s hard to mess with years of tradition, so just tweak it every now and again depending on your Thanksgiving mood. It’s a way that you can take care of yourself, and others too of course. Some years you may want to pull out all the stops, channeling your inner Martha Stewart. Others you may keep it super simple, maybe even allowing yourself to use, gasp, disposables. Tasteful ones of course! The main thing is, in my humble opinion, tune in to your inner voice. And listen. Then ask for help. Both can be easy to do if you let yourself step back from your very busy life and put things into perspective. Thanksgiving really is everyone’s favorite holiday. It’s all about family, friends, and food. Oh, and if you know my husband, football.

So, Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Hoffman Haus!

- Leslie